There have been countless stories on this board and elsewhere of those with OCPD shutting down when their partner/child becomes seriously ill or injured. Refusing to drive a partner with a broken bone to the hospital, expecting a partner with cancer to "do more" around the house. (Mind you, many OCPD'rs have been wonderful and attentive caregivers.) In these cases, and from what some greenies have been kind enough to describe for us, it seems they get locked into either unconscious demand-resistance, or an anxiety loop of fearing to lose their partner and they can't deal with it, with any of it, so they pretend it's not happening.
From the outside, this looks like NPD behaviors (me me me), rather than OCPD, because being conscience/rule-driven *should* propel an OCPD'r to do his/her duty by an injured or ill spouse, however grudgingly. We all know (I hope) that if your spouse tells you, "Honey, I think I broke a bone; will you please drive me to the emergency room?" that The Right Thing to do is get the car keys and not argue - am I right?
What is going on, on the inside, we outsiders can only guess.
So, I'm guessing.
I see it as denial or deliberate self-delusion based on caring too much, rather than caring too little. My mental model of it (Note the term mental model - I'm not saying that it's an accurate reflection of anyone's thinking) is:
- It's the OCPDer's job to discover, implement, and enforce all of the rules that keep the universe spinning and keep anything bad from ever, ever happening.
- Something bad happened.
These two things are incompatible. They lead to a choice between two equally intolerable conclusions:
- Bad stuff just happens sometimes, with no way to prevent it, or
- The OCPDer committed an error in performing his job to ensure that nothing bad ever happens.
We know that the first is true. The OCPDer may logically know the same thing. But emotionally, no. To accept that is, I think, to undermine the whole underpinning for OCPD. It would be an instantaneous cure. That's not going to happen.
And the second is equally intolerable. If the OCPDer can make mistakes re things that are desperately important, like their spouse, then the whole protective structure that they've built around themselves is utterly worthless.
So it's necessary to go on to less logical but more palatable explanations. Some possible explanations that I can see are:
- Nothing bad has actually happened; the event is just an ordinary everyday thing.
- The bad thing is not the OCPDer's fault, it's the fault of the person that it happened to.
- The OCPDer doesn't actually care about the person. Look at them, after all, how imperfect and annoying they are.
Right now, I have a chest cold that's hanging on for a while. My guy is putting a lot of time and effort into explaining how the continued existence of the chest cold is all my fault for failing to follow his directives. The facts that he doesn't follow those directives when he's sick, and in fact doesn't even do simple things like getting enough sleep when he's sick, are irrelevant to him. Right now, he needs the cold to be my fault, so he declares it to be my fault.